Saint George's Church
Loving God. Serving Others. Changing the world.

Weekly Message

Posts in Weekly Message
Having touched “another world”

I love the season of Lent!  It’s not just that it provides us with a time for the spring cleaning of our souls, or that it has some of the most beautiful music of any of our liturgical seasons.  For me, Lent is anything but a sorrowful and sad season, but quite the opposite.  There is a quiet joy that pervades.  What I love most is that this season is about undergoing a transformation.  Lent provides the structure for self-examination in the midst of our chaotic world.  It provides that opportunity to re-order our lives, to put our focus and energy into that which is truly important - our faith in God…

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Our Lenten Journey

I’m fairly used to spending most of my time inside these days. And, at this point, imagining a forty-day trip into the wilderness feels downright bucolic. I can imagine the beauty of those desert afternoons—the evening breeze through the dunes at sunset, the stars multiplying in the sky as the blue of eventide fades into violet. And, as the night darkens, I imagine a new moon revealing the cascade of the milky way across the sky. I feel a deep sense of peace, outside in creation.

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Social Justice Sunday

This Sunday is the Last Sunday after the Epiphany and the final Sunday before the Lenten season begins.  It is also Social Justice Sunday at Saint George's.  We will be blessed to have the Reverend Melanie Mullen, Director of Reconciliation, Justice and Creation Care for the Episcopal Church, USA, as our guest preacher and forum speaker.  Melanie is on Presiding Bishop Michael Curry's staff.  I hope that you will be able to come to a service as well as the 9:30 a.m. forum to hear about the vitally important social justice ministry of our National Church. 

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Diaconal Ordinations

Dear Friends,

I am really looking forward to the diocesan diaconal ordination on Saturday, March 2nd at 10:30 a.m. at Good Shepherd, Burke.  Saint George's is blessed to have three of the five ordinands, Crystal Hardin, Daniel Johnson and Amanda Kotval.  Crystal is a former Senior Warden and discerned a call to the priesthood here.  Daniel is our current seminarian and has been with us for the last two years.  Amanda was with us last summer.  It is great honor for all of us to be a part of shaping these future priests.   

Saint George's has a long history of having wonderful seminarians…

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The Beatitudes

Our text this Sunday is the story of the Beatitudes from Luke’s Gospel, chapter six. Before Jesus’ speech gets underway, we are told about the crowd: “They had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases”
 
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by difficulty or disease. For me the Beatitudes are a reminder that even in the midst of difficulty, God can still bring healing and new life into our world. St. George’s is thriving. We are blessed with so many kind and thoughtful individuals who give their attention to effective and powerful service.  There are a variety of gifts here, all being woven together in God’s good purposes. Haley and I are thrilled to share that we are expecting a second child. Life is beautiful and good.  I hope you can join me in saying, in the midst of our challenges, “Thanks be to God.”

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Singing together…expanding the landscape of the heart

One of the reasons I chose my profession over others was because I loved to sing.  But more than just loving to sing, I loved to sing with others, especially when it involved hymns.  As a young child, I was immersed in the great four-part Lutheran hymn singing tradition.  It was both mystical and robust and it made a lasting impression on me.  And though I didn’t realize it in my youth, it was something that I physically felt and profoundly holy experience.  I still do today.

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Love is patient; love is kind;

This Sunday our 2019 vestry will be commissioned after spending Friday and Saturday at Roslyn Retreat Center in Richmond.  Please pray for our vestry as we begin this new year together.  We have a wonderfully diverse leadership group:  Mary Yuhas, Anne Norloff, Seton Droppers, Ed Mott, Katie Wells, Manuel Figallo, Lyn Crawford, Suzanne Stephens, Ike Emejuru, Preston Findlay, Margret Hjalmarson and Mike Giaquinto.  

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Evensong

My first experience with Evensong was an online broadcast from Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.  I was fresh out of college serving a large Lutheran congregation in North Dakota which served as the center of music and arts for a large area.  I started listening because I was curious about this Episcopal service that had such a cool title.  But mostly I was looking for repertoire ideas, and wanted to hear some good organ playing.  I didn’t think it was possible to worship remotely, so I wasn’t prepared when I found myself captivated and moved by this service.  The music was glorious, but what I found especially moving was how the profound mystery and presence of God emanated throughout the service in a different way than it did in our Eucharistic liturgy.  

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My hour has not yet come


Dear Friends,

It wasn’t until a couple years after Seminary, that I was able to fully understand the exchange between Jesus and his mother in our reading this Sunday from the second chapter of John’s Gospel. I was attending a friend’s Catholic wedding, and the Roman Catholic Priest officiating the service was the one who finally helped me understand the exchange. The text gives us a window into a rather public “difference of opinion” between Jesus and his mother. Jesus was of the opinion that “My hour has not yet come”, while Mary knew that it was time for Jesus to begin his public ministry. And, rather than continuing to argue with Jesus directly, Mary sends a message through the servants, telling them to “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you”—trusting that Jesus will listen to his mother and start the very thing that he was perhaps hesitant to undertake.

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Sunday, a wonderful day

This Sunday will be a wonderful day in our life together.  We will have our Annual Meeting at 9:15 a.m. in the parish hall.  I hope you will come to elect new vestry members and hear about all of the wonderful things that God has been doing in our midst- everything from amazing stewardship news to meeting our new Director of Operations to an exciting Organ Report.  

This Sunday is also the Feast of our Lord's Baptism.  We will reflect on the meaning of Jesus' baptism when a voice from heaven declared "You are my Son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased" and think about how our baptisms signify that we are each God's beloved.  We will have the great joy of baptizing Elliott and Alice Debevoise at the 10:30 service.  We'll also recognize the 10 people who were confirmed and received at Saint Michael's last Sunday.  

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Feast of the Epiphany

This Sunday is the Feast of the Epiphany.  The story of the wise men from Matthew 2: 1-12 has been the inspiration for many artists, poets and theologians over the 2,000 years of Christian history.  

The wise men represent our yearning for God, that desire that each of us is born with to experience the infinite in this finite world.  T.S. Eliot captured this longing beautifully in his famous poem,  The Journey of the Magi, written in 1927, a year after he began an intentional journey of Christian faith.  

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God is at work

Advent 4 beckons and the Nativity of our Lord awaits!  This Sunday we hear the story of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth's house.  The two women are both expecting and they invite us to anticipate Christmas with wonder, love and praise.  

I always marvel at the mystery of Jesus gestating in Mary's womb.  To think that God chose a human being to literally bring God's Son into the world.  That is stunningly beautiful and mysterious.  We are invited to ponder these things between now and Christmas.

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A chase, a couple love duets, and a bunny hop

On Christmas Eve at 9:30pm, as a prelude to our Festival Eucharist the Saint George’s Choir will sing Bach’s famous Cantata 140, “Wachet auf ruft uns die Stimme” (Sleepers, Wake!).  It is a truly glorious and beautiful work packed with rich symbolism that probes the mysteries of our faith. I love how Bach accomplishes this in an adventure-filled journey complete with a chase scene of Hollywood proportion, gorgeous love duets, and a festive bunny hop.

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The beginning of Advent

I am feeling very grateful for Abraham Lincoln's 1863 proclamation making it a national holiday set aside for giving thanks for all of God's blessings.  It is such an enduring gift to us.  It's especially significant that he issued this proclamation in the midst of the Civil War.  He had the sense that setting a day apart for giving thanks was especially important during such a protracted time of intense suffering and divisiveness. …. It's important for us to remember the origins of the national holiday this Thanksgiving, especially given the fractiousness of our times. …. Gratitude is a wonderful way to counter divisiveness. When we live from a grateful center, we have the strength to face the challenges of life without losing hope.  When we really focus on gratitude, the light of Christ encircles those challenges and helps us to see that God is with us through every joy and every challenge.  

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Happy Thanksgiving

I am feeling very grateful for Abraham Lincoln's 1863 proclamation making it a national holiday set aside for giving thanks for all of God's blessings.  It is such an enduring gift to us.  It's especially significant that he issued this proclamation in the midst of the Civil War.  He had the sense that setting a day apart for giving thanks was especially important during such a protracted time of intense suffering and divisiveness. …. It's important for us to remember the origins of the national holiday this Thanksgiving, especially given the fractiousness of our times. …. Gratitude is a wonderful way to counter divisiveness. When we live from a grateful center, we have the strength to face the challenges of life without losing hope.  When we really focus on gratitude, the light of Christ encircles those challenges and helps us to see that God is with us through every joy and every challenge.  

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A lesson from Dad

I remember my father having a monthly liturgy for paying the bills. On the first day of each month he would sit at his roll top desk and gather the bills. He would sort them in order of importance and place them in a pile with the most important on top.  At the top was always the mortgage, then the car loan and utilities, insurance, groceries, investments, the newspaper subscriptions and kid stuff, and so on.  He would get out his neatly balanced checkbook and begin paying the bills so that the most important were paid first. Being a curious child who liked to help, it wasn’t long before I picked up on the fact that first check my father actually wrote each month wasn’t the mortgage, but my parents monthly pledge to our church. 

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Thankfulness for those who serve

As we approach Veteran’s Day weekend, I’m feeling a particular thankfulness for those who have served in our armed services. We are blessed by the faithful attentiveness of so many of our women and men in uniform: and, to me, the hierarchical organization of the military provides an interesting comparison and foil for the Body of the church—while we do have Rectors, Bishops, and Presiding Bishops, we also have the enduring metaphor of the church as a Body, full of people with different gifts—where we all need one another.

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All Saints Sunday

All Saints reminds us that our life in Christ is for eternity and that eternity begins now.  We think about beginnings and endings and the circle of life.  We come from God, we return to God, and God is with us always. As an expression of this Alpha and Omega reality, we will baptize one child at the 8:00 service and five at the 10:30 service.  At the 4:00 Evensong, we will give thanks for the lives of those who have died during the past year in the context of this sung service that is such a beautiful part of our Anglican tradition.  

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